Proposed restrictions on the recruitment of social workers dealing with adults from overseas have sparked fears of shortages.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has updated its list of ‘shortage occupations’ after the recession led to more people seeking work in sectors which previously experienced recruitment difficulties.
It said that while social workers for children and families should remain on the list of professions with few overseas recruitment restrictions, all other social workers should be removed — potentially hitting recruitment drives which have often centred upon Commonwealth countries.
The government will make a decision on the committee’s recommendations “in due course”.
Association of Directors of Adult Social Services workforce development network secretary John Nawrockyi said there was “anecdotal evidence” the shortage of adults’ social workers was as serious as it was for children’s services.
Mr Nawrockyi, who is also the director of adults’ services at Greenwich Council, said: “I would imagine that most London boroughs have a handful of overseas workers from outside the European Union — we have some South Africans and Australians in Greenwich. We believe that there is evidence that adult social work qualifies as a shortage occupation.”
Mr Nawrockyi said that although councils could still recruit from overseas, they would need to demonstrate that they suffered a shortage.
The MAC said vacancy and turnover rates for social workers in England in 2006 were both almost 10%.
It said that the proportion of social workers born outside the European Economic Area increased from 9% to 11% between September 2008 and March 2009.
Committee chair Professor David Metcalf said: “These recommendations take account of the recession. We have looked critically at the evidence and made recommendations which balance the needs of the UK workforce against those of employers.”
Skills for Care chief executive Andrea Rowe said the body would undertake a more in-depth analysis of job roles in the sector to give the MAC further evidence at its next sixmonthly review.